Brief history of Boardmans

2015 has been a bit of a landmark for Boardmans. We’ve been celebrating our 90th anniversary and it got us thinking about some of the amazing fashion trends that have come and gone (and come again!) since we started in business.

Our tale begins back in 1925 in the very heart of Manchester’s hatting district and we’ve grown from a modest, family run business into a design powerhouse creating the hats, gloves and scarves retailers trust.

90 years on, we’re still based in Manchester but we’ve also got offices in China with a team of designers, fabric sourcing specialists and experienced commercial and quality assurance teams – all operating within an audited, ethical supply chain.

1925: Back when we started  

Back when Boardmans first opened its doors for business in 1925, the First World War had ended and with peace there was a growing sense of prosperity and freedom.

For the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the time – the original party set – life had never been better. Nightclubs, jazz clubs and cocktail bars opened up in cities. These hedonistic lifestyles provided many with an escape from reality and often the guilt of being too young to fight and therefore escaping the war.


Wartime experiences influenced British society – particularly so for women as many had been employed in the factories, where they earned money and with it a degree of independence.

Post-war, women were more confident and empowered – a newfound attitude reflected in new fashions. Hair and hemlines became shorter and they started to smoke, drink and drive cars. Cue the arrival of the attractive, reckless, independent ‘flapper’ on the scene, shocking society with her wild behaviour with Twenties-style Girl Power.


The Roaring Twenties – or Jazz Age – had dawned, and with it came a whole new look and attitude.

American actress Gloria Swanson and Polish star of stage and screen Pola Negri were great style influencers during the early 1920s. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, Hollywood starlet Greta Garbo and US film star and dancer Louise Moore were top trendsetters from the mid to latter part of the decade – each adopting key looks of the time, from super-glam flapper girl to the first waves of cool androgyny.  One thing was for sure – 1920s fashion was all about liberation, trying new things and having a whole lot of fun in the process. So, a lot like Boardmans in our 90th year!!















Read Part 2 of our Look Trends in celebration of our 90th Birthday here!

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